At a time when the Indian National Congress is arguably at its lowest point since its inception, if the staunch loyalists of the Gandhi family begin dissenting against the party, it looks ominous for the future of the grand old party. After PM Modi bid a tearful farewell to Congress stalwart Ghulam Nabi Azad from the Rajya Sabha, the Modi government rolled out the red carpet for Azad at an official event which has sent the rumour mills abuzz with what’s really brewing between Azad and the BJP and if the unthinkable can happen.
In a move which no political commentator would have expected to take place, the Modi government rolled out the red carpet for Ghulam Nabi Azad for a gala cultural event organised by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs. Azad was invited as the Guest of Honour.
In fact, colourful posters and banners of the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister were put up all around the venue of the event. Azad was welcomed for the event by Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Minister of State (Independent Charge) Jitendra Singh with Azad sitting with the two Union Ministers in the front row reserved for the VVIPs.
The event “Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat” also saw an Urdu poetry recital with various poets praising Azad during the course of the event. A BJP functionary present at the event said, “Azad sahab is a real statesman, he could be the face of the BJP in the Valley in near future. A person like him commands respect across party lines.”
The red carpet welcome comes after PM Modi bid a teary-eyed farewell to Azad in the Parliament recently. Reminiscing particularly of an incident when a terror attack occurred in 2006, in which Gujrati families became the victims, PM Modi said, “Azadji was the first person to call me. During that call he could not stop crying,” PM Modi said with a choked voice as tears rolled down from his eyes. The then CM of J&K went to the airport when the bodies were sent back and kept in touch till the plane landed in Gujarat.
Referring to Azad as a “true friend”, PM Modi had stated that he will not let him retire and will continue to seek advice from him.
Perhaps this move can be seen as a follow-up to PM Modi’s statements as the BJP looks to engage with Azad in a meaningful way. While Azad’s popularity on the ground is rapidly diminishing as his prospects were tied to the sinking fortunes of the INC, however, the BJP and Azad can together unite the region Jammu and Kashmir and herald the region to prosperity in the post Article 370 era.
While the Gandhi family has royally sidelined Azad, the BJP is appearing to engage with him and use his experience and expertise for the betterment of the country. Such bipartisan politics is the hallmark of the marvel that Indian democracy is.